We live in a world where many profess to be of God yet they directly ignore His commandment to keep their own traditions. Jesus Christ says, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:7 KJV) Mainstream Christianity ignores this verse which directly points at their teachings. Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, and all other holidays are the commandments of men. In the bible, God declare what days He made holy. These days are called Sabbaths.
In this study, we will explore the Holy Scriptures for what a Sabbath is and how to keep it holy. Be sure to grab a bible, a writing utensil, and paper.
The Day God Sanctified
In order to understand anything to the fullest, you have to go back to the beginning. The history of the Sabbath begins in Genesis.
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Gen. 2:2-3 KJV)
Chapter 2 of the Genesis tells us that God (not man) blessed the seventh day and rested on that day. Many believe that the Sabbath day was made for the Jews which is one tribe of 12 who were instructed in the law of God. We see that God created the Sabbath before there was Jew or Gentile so how could it have been made for any particle group of people. Also remember Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man…” (Mark 2:27 KJV) If the Sabbath had been made for the Jews alone certainly Jesus would have mentioned this.
Others make the claim that the day sanctified in Genesis is not the Sabbath day. A clear rebuttal from the bible will make this clear.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex. 20:8-11 KJV)
Notice in verse 11, the Lord recalls the history of the Sabbath and the creation. The Sabbath should also remind us of the creation and lead us back to glorifying God for that reason. This is why this is the only commandment that begins with the word remember. There is a reason why God wants us to remember the Sabbath. More on this later.
The Other Sabbaths: Adding Depth
God being a just and righteous being would not tell us to keep a day holy and not explain to us how to keep it holy. The practice of keeping the Sabbath is given more thoroughly in the other Sabbath the Lord outlined in His law. So then it is necessary to know them as well. In fact, many are unaware that the Sabbaths of God are outlined in a single chapter. That chapter is Leviticus 23. Leviticus 23 discusses the feast days the Lord gave to the children of Israel.
Note: These feast days are supposed to be kept by spiritual Israel as well as physical Israel.
“Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” (Lev. 23:3 KJV)
As mentioned in Exodus, we see that no work is to be done on this day. Lev. 23: 7-8, 21, 25, 35-36 adds depth to what is meant by no work. It uses the words no servile work.
Servile is defined as:
1. slavishly submissive or obsequious; fawning: servile flatterers.
2. characteristic of, proper to, or customary for slaves; abject: servile obedience.
3. yielding slavishly; truckling (usually followed by to).
4. extremely imitative, especially in the arts; lacking in originality.
5. being in slavery; oppressed.
6. of, pertaining to, or involving slaves or servants.
7. of or pertaining to a condition of servitude or property ownership in which a person is held as a slave or as partially enslaved: medieval rebellions against servile laws.
The previously mentioned verses coupled with Ex. 20:11 shows that even a person’s servants are not allow to work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath did not exclude servants or slaves. Do you see how important God views the Sabbath?
Today, some of those who keep God’s Sabbaths take the concept of no work to the extreme without biblical proof. It is important to use the Word of God as the only source of doctrine. One example of this is not cooking on the Sabbath. Let’s see what the bible has to say about this.
The first record of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is in Exodus. This feast is seven days long and has two Sabbath days in it. (One on the first day and on the seventh day) God instructs the children of Israel to on how to keep it in chapter 12.
“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.” (Ex 12:15-16 KJV)
Notice on the first and seventh day there are to be holy convocation (which is a holy assembly). The law of the Sabbath given in Lev. 23: 3 makes it clear that these two days are Sabbaths. Also read Lev. 23: 5-8 which describes the same feast. After reading that, focus on Ex. 12: 16. It clears stats that no work shall be done except that which every man must eat. If it was inappropriate to cook on the Sabbath, God would have not given this specific exception. Remember that the law is the same for every Sabbath. In order to understand that law, we must search the bible for all verses pertaining to the Sabbath.
The next feast day in time order is Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks.
“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord… And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” (Lev. 23:15-16, 21 KJV)
Pentecost follows the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Notice again, the Lord’s instructions include no servile work shall be done in this day. In addition, verse 21 adds to the overall understanding of a Sabbath stating that it shall be kept forever throughout the generations. This should dispute the belief that Jesus’ sacrifice has provided us with a pass on these holy days. Also remember that Christ said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt. 5:17 KJV)
It is important to mention that each Sabbath does have special commands because of their individual meaning in God’s plan. One example of this is the eating of unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On no other Sabbath is this commanded. Despite this fact the foundation of each Sabbath is the same law. For further evidence of this read Lev. 23:23-25, 27-28, 31-32, and 34-37. Be sure to read the entire chapter of Leviticus 23 if the previously mentioned verses do not give you a full picture of the general Sabbath law and the special laws for each Sabbath.
The most important revelation about how to keep the Sabbath was given by Jesus Christ.
“And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse him.And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.” (Matt. 12:9-12 KJV)
Here Jesus Christ asks a very important question. Is it lawful to do well in the Sabbath days? Jesus uses an example of a fallen sheep and then makes the point of comparing the importance of a sheep and a man. Remember that man is made after the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and was designed for a greater purpose than a sheep. If it is lawful to help a sheep on the Sabbath, then it is also lawful to help a man on the Sabbath.
The Disciples and Apostles Keeping the Sabbath
There is much scriptural evidence of the disciples and apostles keeping the Sabbath which adds to the depth of the Sabbath law. We will not go through all of these verses. We suggest you get a bible concordance and look up the words Sabbath and Sabbaths.
Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, kept the Sabbath. Many ministers, pastors, and clergy quote Paul often. Rarely do they mention him keeping the Sabbath.
“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth… And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”(Acts 18:1, 4 KJV)
Here we see while Paul was in Corinth he gathered with the Jews and Greeks to talk about scripture. There is no question about if he kept the Sabbath because it states plainly that this was what he did every Sabbath. Read Act 17:1-2. It states that this was Paul’s manner to do this. It was his custom to go to the synagogues on the Sabbath to reason with people out of the bible.
Paul was not the only apostle to keep the Sabbath!!!
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1 KJV)
Notice all of the disciples (at this point apostles) and others gather in one accord on the day of Pentecost. How many churches keep this feast day? What makes any church better then the very disciples who learned directly from Jesus Christ?
Be sure to read the entire book of Acts at some time in your studies and note the amount of times the apostles kept the Sabbath.
What Not to Do on the Sabbath
The bible gives plenty of examples of things we should not do on the Sabbath. Let’s explore one large example.
In the Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah is discusses his experiences trying to rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem. After finishing his work, Nehemiah returned the king of Babylon. After returning to the king of Babylon, he returned to Jerusalem to find the following scenario:
“In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.” (Neh. 13: 15-18 KJV)
The people of Jerusalem were performing all types of labors on the Sabbath. In addition, they were buying and selling with merchants from Tyre. These men were breaking the Sabbath. Nehemiah even points out that they were doing the same evil that their fathers had done before them. The result of that sin was the very captivity that many of them had just experience.
Also note that none of the labor that was being done was for the good of other humans. Jesus made it plain that it is perfectly fine to do well on the Sabbath.
Remember in Leviticus that there are to be holy convocations on the Sabbath. The proper way to keep the Sabbath is to abstain from labor unless someone is in need, have a holy gathering, and abstain from buying and selling.
A Sign between You and God
The last point we must make in this bible study is the most crucial to the understanding of keeping the Sabbath. This point provides the reason why the Sabbath should be kept exactly the way God commands us to in His Word.
Notice what God specifically tells Moses to tell the children of Israel:
“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” (Ex. 31:13 KJV)
These are words directly from the mouth of God.
Take a look at the English Standard Version of the same verse.
“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” (ESV)
Notice the difference. Above all we should keep God’s Sabbaths because they are a sign between to you and God. This is so that we know that it is God who sanctifies us. Keeping the Sabbath keeps us for mistaking any other being or non-living entity as our Creator. It is a sign that our Creator renewed the face of the Earth in six days and rested the seventh.
God also said to Ezekiel, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Ezek. 20:12 KJV)
So why do people believe they can worship God on whatever day they wish? It is true we should worship God everyday; however, the Lord sanctified certain days to highlight His plan and purpose. Also read Ezekiel 20:19-20.
Looking back at Exodus chapter 31:
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Ex. 31:16-17 KJV)
In the context of these verses, we are given more understanding. Here God is reminding Israel that keeping the Sabbath is a perpetual (never ending) covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice was not the end of a never ending agreement between God and His people. In Titus 1:2 we learn that God cannot lie. So then He would not make perpetual agreement then break it.
Finalizing Our Understanding
Let’s recap what we’ve gone over in this study for the sake of committing these facts to memory.
- The Sabbath was created before the Ten Commandments were given to Israel.
- The Sabbath was personally sanctified by God
- There are other Sabbaths that God sanctifies which are a part of His feast days.
- Jesus and the disciples kept the Sabbaths
- The apostles kept the Sabbaths after Jesus’ death
- There is to be no servile work done on the Sabbaths expect for helping those in need
- There should be a holy assembly on the Sabbath
- The Sabbaths are a sign between God and His people.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex 20:8 KJV) It is important to focus on the fact that this is the only commandment that start with remember. We are to remember this commandment to remember the more important facts surrounding the Sabbath. The existence of God, the sign between you and Him, and all of His other commandments can be remember just from remembering the Sabbath. Remember it is possible to forget God’s law as mentioned in other parts of this series.
The Sabbath has many related subtopics that we intend to discuss and future writing.
Also watch the video at this link for more understanding: TheTrumpet.com